Making hay while the sun shines Irrigation - Total Eden

Making hay while the sun shines

At one of Australia’s largest agricultural irrigation projects in Western Australia, the scorching Pilbara sun touches 55 degrees, but the wide brown land has flashes of green thanks to Total Eden’s involvement in the innovative Rio Tinto owned Hamersley Agriculture Project (HAP).

The project utilises surplus water from the nearby Marandoo iron-ore mine to cultivate 850 hectares of irrigated hay crop destined for 25,000 Rio Tinto cattle and other local pastoralists.

Irrigation and water management specialist provider, Total Eden was the successful tender, with its proposal to supply the mining giant Rio Tinto with the irrigation infrastructure for the HAP project featuring 17 giant Reinke centre irrigation pivots.

The giant centre pivot machines are designed to slowly cover the ground on sets of self-propelled wheels to deliver the life-giving supply of water evenly and automatically.

Total Eden Project Manager Clive Croxford: “ Irrigated pivots are commonly used in Australian broad acre farming to assist in the production of crops, but this is the first time it has been used in the Pilbara.” 

The irrigation project produces more than 30,000 tonnes of hay per year – remarkable in an area with an annual rainfall of just 427mm.

Other key facts:

  • Control of each pivot, generator and fertiliser injection system is by remote via an Observant developed communication and control network linked by radio and internet.
  • Sensors connected through the Observant system will monitor and allow control of soil moisture, soil conductivity, pivot application rates, fertiliser injection rates, pivot position and all alarms.
  • Power is delivered by generator at each pivot. Each generating set is remotely controlled and monitored through the Observant control centre.

General Manager for Climate Change, Water and Environment for Rio Tinto, Allan Jackson, said the project provided a direct benefit by reducing the discharge of surplus water into the surrounding ecosystems.

“By establishing irrigated agriculture in the Pilbara we can potentially increase local stocking rates, reduce the total area grazed and rest large areas that may be under pressure from grazing.”

Rio Tinto owns six pastoral stations in the Pilbara covering 1.5 million hectares.

Total Eden is a leading provider of end-to-end water management solutions to Australia’s mining and exploration industries and can provide:

  • Consultation
  • Recommendation
  • System Design
  • Delivery / Implementation
  • Maintenance / Support
  • Reporting